Thanks to scientists from Northwestern University, an advanced fluorescent ink has been developed. Through the phone’s ultraviolet light, which will work as the product barcode some time down the road, a counterfeit smartphone can be detected.
Considering that more than $650 billion dollars is lose worldwide annually in counterfeiting merchandise, this creation is quite remarkable. The discovery of the fluorescent inks were really happenstance. These inks are water based and made using simple, inexpensive, and readily available chemicals.
Specific to encryption and security, these inks are invaluable. Using inkjet printing technology, researchers combined authentication and encryption security systems. Using natural light, the ink is completely invisible but when exposed to ultraviolet light of a smartphone, it illuminates.
In an effort to fight counterfeiting, the ink can be applied to virtually anything. For instance, an individual could apply ink to thousand dollar purses, high-dollar wine bottles, paper money, and much ore. In fact, this ink can be used to stamp QR codes and barcodes as a way of verifying authenticity.
According to the researchers who developed this ink, copying it would be extremely hard for counterfeiters to do. Because of that, the ink offers tremendous value not only to consumers but also manufacturers and retailers. As suggested by the researchers, the ink would have a distinct ink but also ink formula for each manufacturer.
As stated by Sir Fraser Stoddart, professor at Northwestern University and lead of the study, the complexity being introduced has never been seen before in tools used to fight crime. Interestingly, the inks developed are somewhat similar to those used in protected formulas for soft drinks. In other words, every type of soft drink has a propriety formula. While one product might taste a little like another, matching the exact flavor is impossible without knowing the actual recipe.
Present in the inks are three unique ingredient molecules, one being household sugar. Once sugar dissolves when water is added, the fluorescent color can be adjusted. The exact color of the ink will vary according to the amount of the three ingredients used but also the way in which they interact.
Researchers have also been able to make the inks into single multiple colors. As an example, when cyclodextrin is added, color changes from red to yellow but then to green. However, when a different compound is added, the colors begin to shift back and forth. This ink also has a special reaction based on the surface stamped on. When applied to newspaper, the ink is green but on printer paper it is orange.
Once this crime-fighting ink becomes available, every manufacturer would have full control as to the exact recipe. Because of this, counterfeiters would not have the ability to reverse engineer the information for the color that encoded in QR codes, barcodes, or trademarks since even the smallest variation would have a dramatic effect on the color.